UPDATE 1-Some 390 tons of US ground beef recalled

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WASHINGTON, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Some 390 tons of ground beef produced by a California meat packer, some of it nearly two years ago, is being recalled for fear of potentially deadly E. coli bacterium tainting, U.S. officials said on Monday.

The beef was produced by Huntington Meat Packing Inc of Montebello, California, and shipped mainly to California outlets, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s food safety arm said.

An initial problem, in ground beef shipped by the plant from Jan. 5 to Jan. 15, was discovered during a regular safety check, the Food Safety and Inspection Service said.

It said it had received no reports of illnesses associated with consumption of the recalled products.

During a follow-up review of the company’s records, government inspectors determined additional products produced and shipped in 2008 to be of concern because they may have been contaminated with E.coli, the service said in a notice on its web site.

This batch was produced from Feb. 19, 2008, to May 15, 2008. It also had been shipped to distribution centers, restaurants and hotels within California, the notice said.

“While these products are normally used fresh, the establishment is taking this action out of concern that some product may still be frozen and in commerce,” it said.

E. coli is a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause kidney failure in the most serious cases.

The service said it routinely conducts checks to verify that recalling firms notify customers, including restaurants, of the recall and that steps are taken to make sure the product is no longer available to consumers.

Reporting by Jim Wolf, Editing by Philip Barbara